Friday, July 23, 2010

Dfeast Recipe: Mac and Cheese....with a twist!

I've become a nesting fool, and Real Simple magazine is one of the ways I scratch that itch. A couple  winters ago they published a series of recipes for comfort foods with a healthy twist -- ways to make the foods you love to eat a little less bad for you. The one I tried and loved -- B did, too! -- was Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower.

Not that this is a diet recipe, of course -- there's plenty of cheese for us cheese hounds, and warm deliciousness for when the weather goes to crap. But it was nice to use whole wheat macaroni and slide some veggies into a dish that wasn't born that way.

I've provided the text below and the link above (commenters offered a couple tweaks I've yet to try). My own tweaks? I used ready-made breadcrumbs rather than bread, thereby eliminating step #2 of the recipe as well as a need for fresh parsley, bread, and a food processor (which I don't own). Also, I think I'd only use half the recommended Dijon the next time I make it - the mustard gave a nice tang, but I found it a bit overpowering.

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Quick tip: Using extra-sharp Cheddar lets you use less cheese without giving up flavor. Tender cauliflower adds fiber and vitamin C.
Serves 6
Hands-On Time: 15m
Total Time: 45m

12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni
1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped (I used frozen - our urban stores aren't so good for fresh)
4 slices multigrain bread, torn (maybe optional, if you use ready-made breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (maybe optional, if you use ready-made breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons olive oil (maybe less, if you use ready-made breadcrumbs)
kosher salt and black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup 1 percent milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1) Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.

2) Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and pulse to combine; set aside. (Optional step - you can use ready-made breadcrumbs.)

3) Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.

4) Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


  1. I have been wanting to make this for a loooong time! Looks like I'll have to now that it's been officially endorsed by the DOC.

  2. I LOVE homemade mac and cheese - love it! Thanks for posting!

    PS - when I think of creative alternatives to DMeals, I always thing of your green beans with sauce idea. You should add that post to the Mr. Linky list too. :)

  3. Brilliant idea! I'll put that in, along with my wilty spinach pasta. And maybe my wilty spinach quinoa too - being T1 and not eating meat is NOT an easy task for the ol' carb balancing act....

  4. Wow, this looks good! I've never put sour cream in mac and cheese, but I bet it really adds to the creamy flavor, and cauliflower sounds like a GREAT way to add crunch. I have a ton of broccoli from our local farm, so I'm going to try this with broccoli instead--it'll probably give it the same kind of healthy crunch.

    Thanks for a great idea!

  5. Mmmm, this sounds really good. I'm not a big fan of cauliflower, but I think hidden in this mac and cheese I would like it. Yummy!!